Translating, contextually adapting, and pilot testing of psychosocial and mental health assessment instruments for Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Uganda

Rosco Kasujja, Paul Bangirana, Anna Chiumento, Tasdik Hasan, Stefan Jansen, Daniel M. Kagabo, Maria Popa, Peter Ventevogel, Ross G. White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Forcibly displaced people are at elevated risk of experiencing circumstances that can adversely impact on mental health. Culturally and contextually relevant tools to assess their mental health and psychosocial needs are essential to inform the development of appropriate interventions and investigate the effectiveness of such interventions. 

Methods: We conducted two related studies: (1) to translate and contextually adapt the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), a measure of depressive symptomatology, along with assessment instruments measuring levels of daily stress (Checklist for Daily & Environmental Stressors; CDES), social capital (Shortened and Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool; SASCAT) and perceived social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support; MSPSS) for use with Congolese refugees; (2) to conduct pilot testing of the assessment instruments (including cognitive interviewing about participants’ views of completing them) and a validation of the adapted PHQ-9 using a ‘known group’ approach by recruiting Congolese refugees from refugee settings in Rwanda (n = 100) and Uganda (n = 100). 

Results: Study 1 resulted in the translation and adaptation of the assessment instruments. No substantive adaptations were made to the SASCAT or MSPSS, while notable linguistic and contextual adaptations were made in both sites to the CDES and the PHQ-9. The cognitive interviewing conducted in Study 2 indicated that the adapted assessment instruments were generally well received by members of the refugee communities. Participants recruited on the basis that local informants adjudged them to have high levels of depressive symptoms had significantly higher PHQ-9 scores (M = 11.02; SD = 5.84) compared to those in the group adjudged to have low levels of depressive symptoms (M = 5.66; SD = 5.04). In both sites, the adapted versions of the PHQ-9 demonstrated concurrent validity via significant positive correlations with levels of daily stressors. Each of the four adapted assessment instruments demonstrated at least adequate levels of internal consistency in both sites. 

Conclusions: The adapted versions of the PHQ-9, CDES, SASCAT and MSPSS are appropriate for use amongst Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Uganda. We recommend further application of the approaches used in the current studies for contextually adapting other assessment instruments in humanitarian settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalConflict and Health
Early online date15 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research that contributed to this manuscript was funded by the Economic Social Research Council (UK) (Grant Reference: ES/S000976/1). The funding body did not contribute to the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Adaptation
  • Assessment
  • Depression
  • Humanitarian settings
  • Mental health and psychosocial support
  • Post-conflict
  • Refugees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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